BBFC to scrutinise impact of horror films


David Austin from the BBFC spoke to Breakfast about the changes

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The British Board of Film Classification is to more closely scrutinise horror movies under new guidelines for certifying films.

The BBFC said it would pay attention to the impact of gore and strong visuals in its deliberations.

But after asking the public, there will be more flexibility for strong language in films given a 15 certificate.

The BBFC consultation showed the sexualisation of young women in film and music videos to be a major concern.

The findings revealed the content of some music promos and ease of accessibility to online pornography are also a public worry.

Other amendments that are being made to the organisation's guidelines include tightening up of language in U certificate films, deemed suitable for all viewers.

The BBFC has also said it will give greater weight to the theme and tone of films which are issued with parental guidance (PG) and suitable for 12-year-olds and over (12A) certificates.

12A 'confusing'

Changes to the guidelines will come into force on 24 February.

The organisation admitted the 12A classification continues to confuse many viewers, and further work to improve understanding of the certification would be carried out this year.

The BBFC's website states that 12A means that "anyone aged 12 or over can go and see the film unaccompanied".

Children younger than 12 may see the film "if they are accompanied by an adult (eg someone over the age of 18), who must watch the film with them".

Jane Levy in 2013's Evil Dead Horror film Evil Dead was given an 18 certificate due to its gore and violence

The BBFC's exercise involved some 10,000 members of the public, with teenagers as well as their parents taking part for the first time.

They were asked their opinions on how various issues in film and video, including sex and violence, should be handled.

BBFC director David Cooke said the exercise "ensures that we continue to be in step with what the public wants and expects in order to make sensible and informed viewing decisions".

But he also conceded there was "room for improvement", referring to the need to bring more clarity to the "very important" 12A certificate.

The BBFC also said that its respondents largely agreed with the 12A certificate for 2012's The Woman in Black, despite it being the most complained-about film of the past four years.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    With parents seemingly unwilling/unable to police the BBFCs recommendations, and nobody else in a position to, these days of streaming video on demand have rendered the BBFC irrelevent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    I find film ratings unhelpful as it's often difficult to know why a film has been given a certain rating. Content advisories, like those found on the back of a lot of DVDs, are far more useful. They give a better idea of the level of sex, violence and bad language likely to be found in a film, thus allowing individuals to make a more educated choice when selecting a film to watch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    I don't generally believe in censorship for adults - books, films, games or whatever - provided that nothing illegal has been done in the making of said entertainment.

    However, society has a duty to protect children from inappropriate content. I'm a school Librarian and I would not, for example, lend an Irvine Welsh book to an under 18 pupil unless I had written permission from the parent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    Really, I do think your average teenager is exposed to much much worse on the internet, on the news and in their everyday life than anything they would find at the cinema.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    It is good that the BBFC have brought in real people to survey, but why should one small group say what is and isnt acceptable, perhaps there should be a panel of people randomly selected rather than just the same group over and over. Randomly selecting from a large pool would mean a better view of a film or content. otherwise why not just have one judge say everything and save the money!


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